So with the release of M3E behind us (and still in front of us in some ways) I wanted to get back to the job of improving the Henchmen and Player experience. This includes the M3E Henchmen Program revamp we've all been excited (and patient) for. Id like to reboot something we've done in the past and on a near monthly basis id like to shine a light on the people in our community that help make our game amazing. That could be a store, Henchmen, or a player of our games.
So with that said I give you our first Community Spotlight for M3E... Tom aka @Skitt_Happens in the forums. He is one of our International Henchmen from the UK and runs large events there. He is amazing at growing the community in the UK. We sat down with him (aka emailed) and asked him about his experiences and for advice for fellow players and Henchmen.
So how many years have you been doing Event Organizing?
I'm Tom and I've been organizing events for four and a half years (I may have had to look that up...). I started off running a Shifting Loyalties campaign within my local community, followed by a couple of Henchman Hardcore events, my first full tournament was in August 2017 which was about two weeks after I became a Henchman.
When preparing for an event what do you think are the most important things for a player to remember?
Read the players pack if there is one: while much of the information might be fairly standard, events may have specific flavors or slightly different rulings that are well worth knowing going in; the players pack also gives vital information on how the day will run and being better prepared for that will take a lot of the stress off you. My first player pack was largely copied and pasted from another Henchman's (thanks, Dave!) and every one since has been an adjustment on that first pack, but I am far from believing I've got this tournament thing down perfectly, consequently I am constantly throwing new things in to see if they work.
When practicing before an event, try to practice being very clear in your actions and intentions. By now, your opponents down your local club might know your favorite master inside and out, but often once you play against people outside of your local community you will quickly come across someone that has no idea what any of your models do because no one local to them plays that master. Being prepared for this so that you can clearly state what is happening and why it happens like that will improve the experience for both of you. Things like defining terrain have to be done clearly and methodically at the start of the game: I have been called over in a game to define a terrain piece because the players hadn't done so before the game, each had just assumed that it was played the way they would normally play it locally. One look at the board state told me that I couldn't call it without severely disadvantaging one of the players. Don't put your TO in that position: assume nothing!
And, on behalf of all TOs everywhere, please buy your ticket as soon as possible! We need to know if you are coming or not.
What is a favorite event or memory of an event as a TO?
My 'Tinker, Taelor...' series of events will always be a bit special for me. That first tournament I ran was Tinker, Taelor 1: the event is geared towards getting newer players into the tournament scene by creating an award for the best 'Unranked' player, extending round times a little and providing as much information upfront as possible. Each event has successfully attracted at least a handful of players at their first tournament with the 'Welcome to Malifaux' award going to the player that finished third in the latest installment!
An honorable note has to go to a particular game from one of my other events. Sam and Ben were newer and more experienced players respectively. Every time I walked past the table, one of two things seemed to be happening: either Ben was very patiently explaining a rule mechanic (often to his own detriment) to Sam or they were both falling about laughing as a result of something that had just happened - it was enough to warm my cold TO heart! Immediately after the game had finished I commended them on the spirit with which their game had been played and gave them each an extra raffle ticket.
What is a favorite event or memory of an event as a player?
I could name-check all the great players that have soundly thrashed me across a Malifaux board in the most enjoyable way - but they know who they are! Instead I'll talk about my favorite event (technically two events): UK Masters Side Events 2017. Dave runs great events, and between him and James the events ran like clockwork but for that weekend the games of Malifaux barely mattered! Everyone playing in the side events was almost more interested in what was happening next door in the UK Masters, rather than their own games, which made for six of the most chilled out games of Malifaux I've ever played. What really made that weekend special was the atmosphere and the social element: it felt like a Malifaux carnival and was my first true initiation into the UK Malifaux scene. A few months later I was running my own tournaments - I'm sure that experience fueled my desire to do so.
Why do you choose to run events rather than participate in them?
To be honest with you, there are definitely times that I ask myself that same question... I'm happy with my decision most of the time!
I started running events because we experienced a slight vacuum locally: Peter - the local Henchman before me - did a great job in building the community but when he stepped down no one wanted to take his place for some time. I decided to take up the mantle largely because I felt someone should, and I was as good a choice as anyone else. Once I started I found I really enjoy being TO: there is something special about creating something that brings people together for a shared, positive experience. As I hope comes across, winning or losing, even the games themselves are not necessarily the top of my priorities within the hobby and as a TO I get to soak in the occasion and the society of something I created. There can be stress involved in the weeks running up to an event (at time of writing I am ten days out from the biggest event I have ever run, and I think my postman is getting sick of my anxious stares every morning...) but it does get easier, and indeed more exciting, with every event I run.
One of the great things about the UK tournament community is we are able to travel, which means I get to go to other TO's events around the country - always useful for picking up new ideas! In that sense I'm very lucky in that I do get the best of both worlds a lot of the time, something TOs in many places around the world don't get. Having made that jump from player to organizer I feel far more invested in the community then I otherwise would have, have a greater sense of achievement from events I have run than I would get from any trophy (not that that would be very likely as an alternative anyway....) and other than the dark moments spent shouting "answer me" at my email inbox, have no regrets at choosing to TO.
Any particular events you have run that were smooth and if so why? Any that were challenging and if so why?
The essential thing for me is not trying to run an event alone: I put a lot of planning into an event in the weeks leading up to the day so that the event itself runs as smoothly as I can possibly manage. Where that can fall apart is if I don't have a ringer available, which for various reasons can happen. I hate playing in my own events, because I don't feel I can do justice to both the event as a whole and my opponent for that round. It's stressful and unpleasant. My advice to any new TO would be to make sure you have someone who can be relied upon to attend even if they may not play - I also try to rotate who I use for this so the same person doesn't end up sitting out all your events. If they are needed as ringer I offer them a choice: buy a ticket now and you can play and win prizes, or play for free as ringer but you won't be eligible to win anything. If the numbers are even and you don't need a ringer, it's nice to have someone around to be an extra pair of hands and someone you can chat to without distracting them from the game.
My last event unfortunately suffered from the lack of a ringer, which I hope didn't impact on the experience for the players but it certainly made it much more challenging for me.
Getting your prep work done in advance is vital to a smooth event, particularly liaising with the venue. Knowing what time you can get in, letting them know what time you will be out, it all helps. A good relationship with the venue will go along way as it should be a mutually beneficial arrangement. I would like to think that the vast majority of my events have run smoothly, at least from my point of view, perhaps my players will tell you a different story?